Book Review: Tsubasa Omnibus Vol. 6 by CLAMP

Image Description: book-cover of Tsubasa Omnibus, Volume 6 by CLAMP. There’s the main title up the top, Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE Omnibus 6, and there are three verticle bar-shaped images of the book covers of manga volumes 16, 17, and 18. From left to right, volume 16 features Syaoran (standing) and Syaoran-with-an-eye-patch (sitting), their both wearing the same outfit but there are small changes. Syaoran’s outfit is white with a yellow-orange-and-green trim. Syaoran-with-an-eye-patch’s outfit is white with yellow-orange-and-purple trim. Volume 17 has Sakura and Syaoran featured on the cover. Sakura is wearing a fancy dark-blue dress, fancy dark-blue gloves, and an elaborate black-lace funeral-veil. Syaoran’s face has black markings down the left side of his face and his left eye is blue (normally they are both brown). Volume 18 has Syaoran on the cover, he is wearing a tan and green combat-style outfit, and appears to be holding the handle of a weapon.

Title: Tsubasa Omnibus, Volume 6
Creator: CLAMP
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Format and Price: Paperback from my local library
Stars: 5 stars out of 5

Yarr! Thar Be Spoilers Ahead. Ye Have Have Been Warned.

Content Warning: This omnibus contains some graphic violence that may disturb some readers.

About The Book:
THE EYES HAVE IT. Our group of dimension-travelling companions continues their long journey in search of Princess Sakura’s memories and have now found themselves in trouble in Tokyo. During a last-ditch effort to save Princess Sakura from her underwater slumber, the truth about Syaoran is revealed and this shocking revelation changes everything. Who is the real Syaoran? Can they get the friend they know and love back? Collection of Volumes 16, 17, and 18

General Observation:
~The Acid Tokyo Arch – Plot Development: The Acid Tokyo Arch is composed of Volumes 15, 16, and 17. This is the arch where the plot elements really start to kick in and combine together. The shit really hits the fan in this volume. In this dimension, there is dangerous acid rain that falls from the sky, its toxic for humans, and the corrosive acid has destroyed most of the buildings in the area. Uncontaminated water is the most valuable resource in this world. It’s a resource people are prepared to kill and die for.

The problem with this story-arch is there is so much going on that it’s hard to unravel.

Kamui and Subaru (the vampire twins Seishirou is looking for) show up in this volume, it’s implied that Seishirou is looking for them because Kamui and Subaru’s pure-blood vampire blood has transformative/healing powers, however, it’s never really explained why Seishirou is hunting them across time and space in the first place.

The reason for the existence of two Syaoran’s is explained in this omnibus, turns out the Syoaran we’ve known since the beginning was a clone placed in a specific time and place, specifically designed to capture feathers for Sakura, no matter the cost (to himself or to others). This would eventually lead to a domino list of events, such as meeting Princess Sakura of the Country of Clow, however, it’s still not clear why Fei-Wang is doing all of this.

There’s also the dilemma with Yuuko’s timing of information. In Yuuko’s own words, to tell the travellers more than what she has currently told them would go beyond her Rules of Interference, but to be honest, Yuuko is shown to have been interfering quite a lot already. I get it, Yuuko has rules to follow, but where is the cut-off point?

To be honest, my suspension of disbelief is being put to the test, and it comes across less than Yuuko having legitimate limitations, and more likely that CLAMP is stringing the reader along for dramatic effect. It’s super effective.

Things That I Enjoyed:
~The Red String of Fate: I actually liked how Yuuko was able to create a domino chain of Wishes and, with the group combination of payment, was able to grant them. Yuuko’s ability to figure out just how much is the equivalent exchange price/payment is an impressive gift. To be honest, I’m a big fan of Yuuko, so the fact that she has a big presence in this omnibus is a bonus for me, however, this omnibus showcases what Yuuko is capable of when the opportunity presents itself.

~Character Development – Kurogane and Fai: In this omnibus, Fai has one of his eyes ripped out, the shock alone would probably have been enough to kill him, however, they’ve also travelled to a world where medicine and resources are limited. So what does Kurogane do? He takes on the price for the wish of keeping Fai alive.

Kurogane helps Kamui turn Fai into a vampire and volunteers to turn himself into “game”. Fai needs to feed on Kurogane specifically and regularly in order to stay alive. Fai is angry and frustrated that his life has been preserved regardless of what he wanted and, to be honest, this does make sense. There is a grey area of consent involved.

In principle, having this decision being made for Fai would be understandably frustrating, but I think there’s more to it than just that. It’s clear that Fai has some serious emotional baggage and/or trauma to deal with. The problem is Fai never going to deal with those issues as long as he’s allowed to put on a fake smile and pretend nothing is going on.

Fai also won’t be able to connect to people as he’s always keeping them at arm’s length. Fai honestly expressing himself is a good step forward. In contrast, Kurogane has always been direct, and Kurogane is also the only one who confronts Fai on his self-destructive behaviour.

Kurogane has also made it clear that he won’t force Fai to drink from him. This isn’t something that deserves a gold star but it’s an important boundary to establish.

~Character Development – Fai and Sakura: Kurogane is correct in his observation that Fai and Sakura are very similar, strong and fragile simultaneously, but they are also the type of people who give so much of themselves for the sake of others. Fai or Sakura also don’t handle survivor’s guilt well. There are a few bonding moments between Fai and Sakura in this omnibus, however, I think the most significant is the moment Sakura returns from the Acid Tokyo desert with a shiny egg.

Sakura collapses as she returns from her quest and Fai is the first to reach her. Sakura apologises and asks Fai to forgive her, Sakura is stricken that she spent most of the time in Acid Tokyo asleep, and was thus unable to prevent Fai from being badly injured. You can see it in Fai’s face that he understands exactly what she’s feeling but also that he doesn’t blame her in the slightest. CLAMP is very talented at conveying complex emotion in a small space.

Things That I Did Not Enjoy:
~Story Structure Problems: I feel as though the mystery involving Fei-Wang’s possible motivations was dragged out for far too long. Especially since the reader is still not getting all the information. Yuuko could have told them this information about Fei-Wang sooner.

I honestly think that someone involved in the creative process of Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE has a plan for the series a whole but I am given the overall impression of: “Behold! All The Pretty Scenery and Beautiful Costumes! Wait… When was the last time the plot was mentioned? Oops.”

I am now 16 volumes into a 28 volume series, that’s roughly 57 per cent of the series completed, and the reader is only just finding out what the villain’s main goal is? Despite the fact that Fei-Wang Reed’s plan has majorly impacted the main characters lives? And Yuuko was aware of how big of an impact it was?

At this point in time, the planned plot elements may exist but have been poorly executed, pretty aesthetics cannot always compensate. To go from no information to a lot of information seems like poor story planning on behalf of CLAMP.

~Show Don’t Tell: Yuuko is just as much a chess-master as Fei-Wang, however, the characters (and the reader) kind of have to take Yuuko at her word that Fei-Wang Reed is the bad guy here. A lot of Fei-Wang Reed’s villainry is done off-screen and the reader never gets to see Fei-Wang do bad things directly.

Such as with the Ko/Angel problem in xxx-Holic, it’s implied that Fei-Wang Reed is involved, and yet there’s no real evidence shown to demonstrate this. The best case scenario is when the reader and characters are told things about Fei-Wang Reed in an info-dump manner.

Occasionally the reader gets to see the after-effects of the villainous act. Xing-Huo’s fate is a good example. Apparently, she wasn’t supposed to allow Syaoran-with-an-eye-patch escape (this wasn’t obvious to me on my first reading). CLAMP could have shown the reader the conflict-scene between Xing-Huo and Fei-Wang Reed.

CLAMP could have shown the reader just how powerful both characters were. The reader could have been given some information as to what Xing-Huo’s motives were for helping Syaoran in the first place. Instead, the reader is given a few scenes where Fei-Wang is monologuing to himself, then there’s a cut to a dramatic reveal, where Xing-Huo’s body is impaled to a wall.

It’s not as though CLAMP have an aversion to depicting gore or violence. They had no problems drawing scenes where Fake-Syaoran rips out Fai’s eye and starts dragging his bloody unconscious body around.

All in all, Omnibus 5 and 6 marks a pivotal turning point in the series, what started out as a fun adventure story has turned into a dark-fantasy time-travel mystery (not a bad thing per say). Regarding the plot-elements, there was so much build up for the reveal, there was probably bound to be some disappointment. For me, it wasn’t the plot reveals that I had problems with, my main problem was how CLAMP chose to present this information to the reader.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

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